Center for Ethics

Center for Ethics
2003 - 2004

Related Campus Activities
Local Events
Sustainability Program Statement
Campus Corner

The concept of sustainability has emerged in many different disciplines as a way to discuss consumption and production from a perspective broad enough to include respect for cultural values, natural resources and humane practices. The Center for Ethics invites critical reflection on the strengths and limits of sustainability through its Fall 2003 programming, Sustainable Communities: Balancing Economy, Ecology and Justice.

Through interactive programming, presentations and classroom activities, the Center encourages investigation of social practices in our local college community, as American citizens and across diverse cultures. Questions to be raised include: How is sustainability to be defined and measured? How do practices change if sustainability is introduced as a value? Is sustainability anthropocentric in ways that leave the environment vulnerable? What is the relationship between resource consumption in the developed world and underdevelopment elsewhere? To what extent do our campus practices contribute to, or detract from, sustainability?

All events, unless otherwise noted, are free and open to the public

Gary Snyder: Poetry Reading
Monday, September 8 7:00pm • Miller Forum, Moyer Hall
Recipient of many awards for poetry and nature writing, Gary Snyder is one of the most eloquent and reflective American poets to speak about the human place in the natural world. Known for his work on bioregions and watersheds that is both inspiring and compelling, Snyder calls upon humans to be loving and responsible stewards of the land and members of a vibrant and harmonious human-land community. This event is co-sponsored by the Living Writers program. Reception follows.
Relatedweb resources 

Film: “The Next Industrial Revolution: William McDonough, Michael Braungart and the Birth of the Sustainable Economy”
After the film, a discussion will be facilitated by Professor Jason Kelsey of the Environmental Science program.
Wednesday, September 10 • 7:00pm• Miller Forum, Moyer Hall
This 55-minute documentary chronicles the work of architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart, whose worked helped to bring more environmentally friendly design and practices to industries such as Nike, Ford Motor Company, Design Tex and Oberlin College. The film offers a hopeful look into the future that suggests how we can meet economic needs in a way that is both ethical and just plain good business sense.
Related web resources

Richard Matthews: "The earth belongs in usufruct to the living": Jeffersonian Values for the 21st Century
Tuesday, September 16 7:00 p.m. Lithgow auditorium, Trumbower
NEH Distinguished Professor in the department of Political Science at Lehigh University, Professor Matthews will discuss how the Jeffersonian vision of a democratic community circles around his radical theory that "the earth belongs in usufruct to the living." Implicitly ecological at its core, Jefferson's "utopian" notions offer contemporary Americans ways to think about politics, government, and what it means to be human that stand as an indictment of the American conception of the good life. Americans may well quote "The Declaration of Independence," but we live The Federalist.

World Game
Saturday, September 20 • 9:00-12:00 p.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m.• Miller Forum, Moyer Hall
In this simulation game, participants are organized into teams, each team representing a region in the world. The teams work with each other to solve problems relating to environment, health, education, and economy. They learn about the roles played by government, citizens, business, and non-governmental organizations. Most participants will sign up through courses in which they are registered. Others may participate by contacting the Assistant Program Director, Linda McGuire.

The Sustainable Campus: “Town Meeting”
Wednesday, September 24 • 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. Miller Forum, Moyer Hall
How have college campuses implemented practices that use renewable resources, save energy, and build on local economies? What "green" practices are currently being used at Muhlenberg? What practices could be tried? What are the challenges to implementing such practices? Join in a town meeting led by College administration, students, and faculty. Reception follows. Please join us afterwards for a light supper.

Terri Swearingen: Community Organizing and Environmental Activism
Tuesday October 14
7:00 Miller Forum, Moyer Hall
Recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, Terri Swearingen became a community organizer when a toxic waste incinerator was planned for her town in the Ohio Valley in the early 1990s--right next to an elementary school. She will share her story and the lessons she learned about the important role of citizens in fighting for livable communities. Reception follows.

Sustainable Practices on the Muhlenberg College Campus
Thursday October 16 5:00pm - 6:00pm The Red Door, Seegers Union
This student-led discussion about sustainable practices on Muhlenberg's campus is a follow-up to the presentation by Muhlenberg staff, students, and faculty that was held on September 24th. Students will discuss what they can do to actively participate in the process of continuing to build on Muhlenberg's implementation of environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices. All members of the campus community are welcome!

Tom Hylton: Planning for Sustainable Communities
Monday, October 20 7:00 p.m • Miller Forum, Moyer Hall
Winner of a Pulitzer prize for his articles on land use planning, author of Save Our Land, Save Our Towns, and chairman of the Pottstown Planning Commission, Tom Hylton will be presenting a slide show on land use in Pennsylvania. [Please note the related event (on land use) on October 28th.] This event is being cosponsored by the Public Engagement Project. Reception follows.

Can We Grow Sustainably?: A panel discussion on land use in our communities
Tuesday, October 28 • 7:00 p.m. • Miller Forum, Moyer Hall
Farmland and open space are turning to subdivisions and strip malls while available land in city-centers remains undeveloped. Join in a discussion of the specific challenges to Pennsylvania--shared by
communities in neighboring New Jersey--that includes the perspectives of local land use professionals, citizens groups, elected officials, and developers. What is currently being done in Pennsylvania to promote more sustainable land use practices? How can we as citizens play an active role in shaping the land use decisions that affect our lives?

Participants include Hon. Robert Freeman, a representative in the PA House of Representatives who has worked extensively on land use issues in the Lehigh Valley; Al Cepparulo, a law professor at Penn and trial lawyer who has represented both local government and private landowners in land use disputes; Dr. Edward Morgan, University Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University, who has published on issues of participatory democracy, citizen participation, and protest movements, and who was recently one of the principal organizers of a citizens lobbying group, NOMALL (Neighborhoods Mobilized to Assure Local Livability), which fought against a commercial development near a West Bethlehem neighborhood. Reception follows.

Sustainable Agriculture
Wednesday, November 5 7:00 p.m.• Miller Forum, Moyer Hall
Local farmers and merchants talk about the possibilities and challenges of growing food that is organic or grown locally. Participants include George DeVault, local farmer, writer, member of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and Food and Society Policy Fellow for a program funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation; Jeffrey Frank and Kristin Illick, owners of local organic farm Liberty Gardens; Amadou Diop, coordinator of Rodale Institute's international regenerative agriculture programs; Bill Brauchle, produce manager at Wegmans grocery store in Allentown. A reception including locally grown food follows.

Sustainable Communities Across the World
Wednesday, November 12 7:00 p.m Moyer Hall,Miller Forum
The speakers at this roundtable will discuss the challenges of sustainable development. Max Handler used a Watson Fellowship to travel to several remote islands around the globe in 2001-2002, examining how some communities have sought to remain economically self-sufficient, preserve their natural resources, and retain their cultural identities while facing the pressures of globalization. Through a slide presentation, he will share his diverse experiences from the islands of Tristan da Cunha, Spitsbergen, and Pukapuka. The second speaker is Madhu Suri Prakash, Professor of Education at Pennsylvania State University. Recipient of the Eisenhower Award for distinguished teaching, and co-author of Grassroots Postmodernism: Remaking the Soil of Cultures (1998), she is known for her work that questions the efficacy of sustainable development initiatives around the world given the often deleterious effects they have on local cultures. She celebrates indigenous ways of learning, teaching and living—especially amongst peoples called “underdeveloped,” and is exploring paths that lead beyond development. Other speakers will be announced soon. Reception follows.

Fair Trade Bazaar through Ten Thousand Villages
December 3 and 4 Seegers Union, 108-109
Come purchase gifts for the holiday season that support community artisans throughout the developing world. When you buy crafts sold through Ten Thousand Villages, more of the money you spend goes to the people who actually made them. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the village banking organization, FINCA.

"Displacement: Photographs by Edward Burtynsky and Camilo Jose Vergara"
Photographic exhibit curated by Professor Joseph Elliott, Art
department, hosted by the Martin Art Gallery
January 29 thru April 15 Martin Art Gallery
Exhibit features work of photographers who observe the human impact on the land. The history of landscape photography is rich in examples of photographers who chose to depict the natural environment in its monumental purity, or who chose to glorify the urban splendor of the twentieth century city. On the other hand there are many photographers who have used the visual power of the photograph to examine critically the effects of human activity on the natural environment. Although they all hold strong opinions about the landscape and how it has been affected, this group tends to work rather dispassionately, almost as surveyors, gathering visual information and presenting it clearly. If they have integrity as works of art, the photographs resulting from such a critical approach can often be perceived and responded to in several ways. On one hand they can provide powerful and persuasive evidence of damaging and unsustainable effects of human activity, thus providing a rationale for change. The prints can be stunning, some as large as 40 x 50 inches. On the other hand, the visually attractive elements that motivated the photographer, or the formal beauty of the finished artifact may leave the viewer with a more conflicted response. How can such beautiful objects be presenting us with such difficult information?

Sustainability and the Church
For more information, please contact Reverend Peter Bredlau, 484-664-3120,

  • Dr. William Jennings, Emeritus Professsor of Religion, Muhlenberg College.
    "Sustainability and New Ideas about God"
    Tuesday, February 3 Moyer Hall, Miller Forum 7:30 - 9:30 p.m
    Dr. Jennings describes the lecture in this way..."Christians face critics today who say that Christianity is partly responsible for today's ecological crisis because of its focus on the supernatural rather than the natural and its concerns for humans, history and salvation rather than the natural world. Recognizing some truth in these challenges, some Christian thinkers today argue for 'the greening of theology', with ideas which put God in the world rather than apart and which see Christ in all aspects of the physical universe". This lecture is sponsored by the Chapel and the Lutz Lecture Fund. Two student respondents will comment after the lecture.
  • "Religion and Sustainable Economies"
    Tuesday, March 2 Trumbower 130 7:30 - 9:30 p.m
    This will be a panel discussion of the role of religious communities and sustainable economies. Panel participants include Rich Niesenbaum talking about his recent trip picking coffee with a fair trade organization, students sharing their experience with 10,000 Villages, and representatives from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a Fortune 300 financial services company that seeks to integrate faith and finances. This lecture is sponsored by the Chapel and the Lutz Lecture Fund.

  • "Religion and Sustainable Communities: Faith-Based Community Organizing"
    Tuesday, April 27 Trumbower 130 7:30 - 9:30 p.m
    Monica Sommerville, a local organizer, and several representatives from CUNA (Congregations United for Neighborhood Action) will discuss the faith-based community organizing movement and how it works in Allentown. There will be time for questions. This lecture is sponsored by the Chapel and the Lutz Lecture Fund.

Brian Snyder: "Local Agriculture as National Defense:  The Cuban Experience"
Monday, March 29   Hoffman House   5:45-7:00 p.m.
Brian Snyder, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, will present a slide show that explores the rise of sustainable agricultural techniques in Cuba, much of which can be attributed to the long-standing United States trade embargo against Cuba.  In his article entitled “An Excursion through Cuba:  A Clue to Our Future?,” Snyder notes that given the economic crisis that has resulted from the embargo, Cubans have come to see the soil of their country as an important “strategic natural resource.”  He then wonders, “Will it take a crisis of similar proportions in the United States before our people understand?” 


Theatrical Performance by Muhlenberg students under the direction of Professor Beth Schachter
Spring 2004
• date and location TBA
Why do SUV's exist? Who is driving a Hum Vee on the narrow streets of Manhattan? Frankly, if not in one of our many combat areas around the world, why drive one at all? It is all right to eat Tyson chicken when the company is trying to roll back workers wages from $11 to $9 an hour? Where does the Muhlenberg chicken come from? And, actually, why is it okay to eat another animal? As the PETA people, say, "Does Your Food Have a Face?" These are a few of the questions a group of students will be exploring with Assistant Professor Beth Schachter in a new piece to be created during the fall semester. The students will conduct interviews, make videotapes, research issues and come together to create a theatre piece about sustainability as it resonates with our local community.

Other Campus Activities Related to the Theme

Worship Services:
Sundays in September • Muhlenberg College Chapel • 1:00 p.m.
Chapel services will focus on questions related to sustainable communities. All are welcome to join.

Homelessness Awareness Week

Faces of Homelessness: Panel discussion
Mon Nov. 17 • Miller Forum, Moyer Hall • 7:00 p.m.
This panel is part of a program of the National Coalition for the Homeless that is comprised of people who are or have been homeless.

Film: Dark Days
Tues Nov. 18 • Recital Hall • 7:00 p.m.
Dark Days is a film by Mark Singer about the people who lived in the tunnels below the subway in NYC.

Wed Nov. 19 • Miller Forum, Moyer Hall • 7:00 p.m.
Discussion of faith-based initiatives with panelist from Americans United for Separation of Church and State. More details to follow.

Fri Nov. 21
Student-led sleep-out as a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity.

For more information, contact Valerie Lane, Director of Community Services (, 484-664-3657)

Charitable Organization Sponsored:

This year's Center for Ethics program is sponsoring FINCA, a non-profit organization that offers loans to low-income communities through the village banking method. In village banking, loans are a renewable
resource that, once repaid, continue to stimulate yet other fledgling businesses. Village Banking is community-run, involving beneficiaries in the development process and fostering long-term planning and
networks of mutual support among members of the community.

Local Events
Find out about the farmers and vendors that are participating in the Emmaus Farmers' Market. The market is open every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from July 13th to October 26th.
The Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern Pennsylvania “promotes the use of renewable energy, clean energy technologies, and energy conservation among residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial customers in the PPL Electric Utilities service territory”.

“Energy Options: What's Fiction, What's Feasible”
Thursday, October 23, 2003 7:30-9:30 Lehigh Valley Friends Meetinghouse (east side of Route 512, ½ mile north of Route 22).
This discussion, sponsored by the Green Valley Coalition, and featuring speakers Jim Bronfenbrenner (from Air Products) and Steven Gabrielle (PPL) will address different options.

Sustainability Program Statement from the Science Sustainability Committee
July 18, 2003
(This statement was drafted by the Sustainability Committee for consideration in the planning of the new science facilities on campus.)

As a member of the Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, Muhlenberg College is committed to advancing environmental literacy. The design and construction of new science facilities provides the college with a unique opportunity to educate our students and the community about sustainability. Our new facilities will be a model of environmentally-sound construction. Incorporating passive solar design and energy conservation measures reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Using local and recycled materials requires less consumption of nonrenewable fossil fuels. Building with wood from sustainably-managed forests contributes to forest conservation. Careful choosing of building materials can help preserve biodiversity. In so doing, this building will not only house our science program, but will become integral to our teaching. It will serve as a laboratory for investigating sustainability and as a model for how science can be applied to solve our earth's problems. Muhlenberg students will be involved in analysis and planning of the building and renovations, and in evaluation of the building performance after occupation. These green facilities will enhance community outreach programs and serve as a model for other colleges. This innovative approach will attract donors interested in being on the cutting edge of campus sustainability initiatives, and appeal to prospective students. In addition to these benefits, the new facilities will be less expensive to operate over time and pay back any extra cost involved in the construction. Information on green design and building practices are available from many organizations including the US Green Building Council and the Sustainable Campus Initiative.